Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh. Columbia wild type and a root hair-less mutant RM57 were grown on iron-containing and iron-deficient nutrient solutions. In both genotypes, ferric chelate reductase (FCR) of intact roots was induced upon iron deficiency and followed a Michaelis-Menten kinetic with a Km of 45 and 54 microM FeIII-EDTA and a Vmax of 42 and 33 nmol Fe2+.(g FW)-1.min-1 for the wild type and the mutant, respectively. The pH optimum for the reaction was around pH 5.5. The approximately four fold stimulation of FCR activity was independent of formation of root hairs and/or transfer cells induced by iron deficiency. Iron-deficiency-induced chlorosis and the development of a rigid root habit disappeared when ferric chelate was applied to the leaves, while FCR activity remained unchanged. The time course of the responses to iron deficiency showed that morphological and physiological responses were controlled separately.